Ethiopia Secures Sea Access Through Agreement with Somaliland
Ethiopia has taken a significant step towards gaining sea access by signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Somaliland. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has repeatedly stressed the importance of sea access for Ethiopia, sees this agreement as a major diplomatic victory.
While the details of the agreement have not been made public, it is believed that it will pave the way for Ethiopia to secure sea access and potentially establish a military base. Ethiopian officials consider this agreement as a statement of intent towards their goal of gaining sea access.
The agreement also has significant implications for Somaliland. The foreign ministry of Somaliland claims that the deal represents diplomatic recognition of Somaliland by Ethiopia, in exchange for granting sea access to Ethiopian naval forces. Somaliland, which seceded from Somalia over three decades ago, is not officially recognized as an independent state. Therefore, Ethiopia’s recognition carries great importance for the region.
Ethiopia lost its sea access in the early 1990s when Eritrea seceded, making it the most populous landlocked country in the world. Up until now, Ethiopia has relied on Djibouti’s port for its imports and exports. However, this agreement with Somaliland marks a significant shift in Ethiopia’s maritime strategy.
While an MoU is not legally binding, it is considered a statement of intent and can lead to further binding agreements. The 2018 deal between Ethiopia and Somaliland, which was supposed to give Ethiopia a 19% stake in the port of Berbera, demonstrates the potential for deeper cooperation between the two nations.
Ethiopia’s move towards securing sea access is in line with its broader efforts to bolster its economy and improve regional trade. By gaining control over a port, Ethiopia will have greater autonomy in managing its imports and exports, reducing its reliance on neighboring countries.
As Ethiopia takes this crucial step towards sea access, it will be interesting to see how other countries in the region respond. Will this agreement pave the way for further diplomatic victories for Ethiopia, or will it strain relations with other coastal nations? Only time will tell.
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